January 7, 2014
In Suspicionless Searches of Electronic Devices, CBP Rivals the NSA
As we begin a new year in the United States, we find civil liberties, and in particular protections against unreasonable searches, seizures, and breaches of privacy, in a most precarious state. Undoubtedly, the story of the year in 2013 was the disclosure of dragnet domestic surveillance on the part of the National Security Agency — a program confirmed by the classified leaks provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. While the NSA’s spying is indeed massive in scope, it is in truth only a relatively small part of the larger surveillance state apparatus.
In fact, when it comes to suspicionless snooping and collection of our electronic data, the NSA is far from the only federal agency with their prying eyes in the game. Perhaps the most under-reported and least understood of these agencies is Customs and Border Protection, and the staggering authority they have been granted within the 100 mile radius of the border known as the “constitution-free zone.”
What’s worse is that courts in the United States have continually ruled these sorts of searches to be legal, despite the public’s growing knowledge and concern over electronic surveillance.
Just last week, a US district judge in New York upheld a 2008 CBP policy update that extended searches at the border and “border equivalents” (i.e., airports and inland checkpoints) to include electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptops. This decision by Judge Korman regarding data grabs near the border comes as federal courts continue to wrestle with the legality of the NSA’s bulk data collection program.
Read the rest of the article on the PanAmerican Post—All Your Data Belongs to the State: In Suspicionless Searches of Electronic Devices, CBP Rivals NSA